The Manual

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by lyndhurst25, 6 Nov 2011.

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  1. lyndhurst25

    lyndhurst25 Member

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    Quite a few posts in this section of the forum seem to be answered by referring to "The Manual". AFAIK the National Fares Manual(s) were last published in paper book form back in 2008.

    What is the current situation for (a) railway staff and (b) passengers who need to look up fares, routes, etc? I know that it is possible to buy the Avantix Traveller CD but that only contains basic fares information and not information on rovers, international journeys, complex ticket restrictions, etc.

    I seem to remember that PDFs of parts of the NFM (e.g Section D - Shipping Links) were once available for download from ATOC / National Rail, but I can't seem to find them now.

    Is the NFM kept up to date? How do railway staff view it? How can members of the public get access to the information?
     
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  3. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    The Manual is the retail manual for staff. It has been known to contain information which is different to passenger material, but it should not be like that.
     
  4. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Through the National Rail website.
     
  5. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    Although I hear that ATOC are considering making "The Manual" public as a nod to the open data agenda promoted by the goverment. This would be a good thing.
     
  6. wintonian

    wintonian Established Member

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    I would be very supportive of this.

    There is nothing to stop ticket office staff or customer contact centres from providing print outs relevant to the passengers querry although I am not sure if parts of the manual are restricted.

    As an example I wrote sometime ago to SWT about Calais tickets and they responded by providing a print out from the manual which I did not request in my letter.
     
  7. IainH

    IainH Member

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    Well, but surely not in its entirety, or as logically structured, judging by the number of times quotes from the manual pop up here to resolve issues? And also, again based on quotes here, sometimes the manual and national rail conflict, raising that interesting legal issue that if you don't disclose the T's & C's fully they can't apply.
     
  8. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    Frankly, the fact that rail staff enforce rules from "The Manual", that are either not publically published, published unclearly or even conflict with public information should be illegal. (In fact, it probably is, but it never comes to court.)

    It's an absolute disgrace that it both exists and isn't public already.
     
  9. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    And since then, have you ever been able to trace the relevant wording for yourself elsewhere?

    (I'm trying to find out if there was a relevant distinction published in the Manual which was not available to you while you were taking all reasonable care and attention before buying a ticket)
     
  10. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Ticket office staff have direct access, I'm not certain about RPIs and guards, but I think they have access through control and should have some form of access at signing on points.

    There are plenty of websites and telesales numbers for fares information and basic routeing, Passengers can also ask at ticket offices.

    The Manual has fares data updated whenever the fares are changed (three times a year) and updates for anything else can be made once a week. Ticket office staff have direct access from their ticket machines. Passengers can ask for the information over the phone, by email or face to face at the ticket office. Some data is available to view online through NRES or similar websites.
     
  11. wintonian

    wintonian Established Member

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    I haven't been able ascertain its existence with out informing staff of its existence first. :roll:
     
  12. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    If I could remember the login, I'd have access to the online Manual, and all Guards do have that login somewhere. Tbh, I think it should be made available to all - could it not be requested under the Freedom of Information Act????
     
  13. wintonian

    wintonian Established Member

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    I'd like to see them try the commercially sensitive line.

    The request was included in a more wide ranging FOI and I think EC possibly missed the explicit request for "Fare and ticketing manuals provided by ATOC or East Coast".

    To correct that statement I have just re-read the reply:

    Anyway the full response is here in PDF format.
     
    Last edited: 6 Nov 2011
  14. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I agree that if it contains ANY information which assists a pasenger in choosing the correct ticket, most useful service, understanding their obligations and those of the Operators etc. etc. then not only do I agree with you, but believe that to withold the information is probably somewhere on a spectrum ranging from misrepresentation, through deceipt to (potentially) fraud.
    But that's not really my concern - all I am worried about is that we are all, to some extent or another, working in the dark. And that doesn't help anyone. There's simply no need to keep rules and guidance hidden from staff and passengers alike - its just an anachronism which hinders us all and increases the risk of a mistake.

    An FOI request if worded correctly might help, but really - it shouldn't take that much effort to display the full T&Cs and procedures of such an every-day and widespread activity as travelling by train.
     
  15. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    I've still yet to hear any compelling argument for the existence of "The Manual" anyway. Either it contains only information that is publicly published anyway and therefore useless (except maybe as a single collection of disparate information) or the information it contains should be publicly published as it relates to the products sold the public.

    Saying that telesales or ticket office staff can answer any queries doesn't quite cut it. Without the document, passengers don't know what questions to even ask. I don't think "Can you read me the complete manual please?" will go down very well.

    It's no different to the RG really. That's public, so why not the manual?
     
  16. bignosemac

    bignosemac Established Member

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    Are ATOC obliged to comply with a FoI request? I thought they weren't.

    That's all well and good if the information tallies with that available to rail staff. It doesn't always.

    Take the recent changes to the 'railway day' for example. NRE, both the website and by phone, are still staying that the railway day ends at 0230. A person wishing to travel in an early hours, say on a return portion of a CDR on the 0238 from Maidenhead - Paddington, may be wrongly informed that the ticket they hold is not valid, and be advised to buy a new one.
     
  17. wintonian

    wintonian Established Member

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    No but if enough people request the information from them then they might put it onto DVD and sell it through the TSO! ;)
     
  18. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    As I have said previously, yes you can ask but would you get the correct answer.

    Before the Routeing Guide appeared online, staff at Sheffield station told me point blank that no such Guide existed.
     
  19. wintonian

    wintonian Established Member

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    I normally just get ignored when mentioning it, I'm obviously missing a trick if you actually get an answer!
     
  20. barrykas

    barrykas Established Member

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    Given The Manual (excluding fares) is updated on a weekly basis, that's not exactly practical...

    Cheers,

    Barry
     
  21. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    Sorry to drop a bomb here, but I don't understand why a staff training and reference resource needs to be public. I don't see BA's fares and revenue manual being made public, nor the manuals of any bus companies.

    I'm sure most regular, Joe Public passengers would just prefer if National Rail Enquiries was updated properly - after all, NRES is accessible to the public, and is designed to be read by the uninitiated. The Manual isn't.
     
  22. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    I think the issue is that - and we've seen cases of it on here- information in The Manual appears to have at times directly contradicted the T&Cs information on tickets available to the general public, and still does for example with regards to Off-Peak ticket T&Cs. It has contained information about validity that the public could not access, and has provided various other forms of clarification on ticket use.

    Ideally, yes, NRES should just be updated, and The Manual should be a training document with further clarification, examples etc. But that's not the current situation.
     
  23. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    NRES is definitive though - the Manual isn't. NRES (however inaccurate) always overrides the Manual by default, as it's the source of information available to the passenger.

    Honestly, I think everyone's efforts would be better concentrated on ensuring NRES actually displays the correct information. How hard can that be? (OK, don't answer that!)
     
  24. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Yes, you are quite correct. Since NRE is definitive, it doesn't matter what The Manual says! ATOC should be forced to change The Manual when it contradicts NRE, as, indeed, has happened once or twice. ;)

    The problem comes when The Manual touches on issues NRE makes no mention of - e.g. Virgin's relaxation of Peak restrictions for tickets accompanied with a Railcard. I genuinely don't see what problems there are with making The Manual publicly available. Staff will do the same as now, but members of the public will be better informed.

    And with regards to "how hard can it be" to ensure that NRE displays the correct information, actually it is very easy! When I had reason for complaint when NRE displayed incorrect information about the 7 Day All Line Rover, I gave ATOC a call and NRE was updated the next day!

     
  25. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    Making the Manual public will benefit the 2% of customers who know how to navigate it and interpret it. It contains a lot of technical jargon and isn't written with the intention of having uninitiated member of the public read it. It will also then "trump" NRES to the detriment of the regular passenger, who will have taken their information from there...

    NRES is written with the intention of being read by, say, Doris Jones of 55 Acacia Avenue. It explains things simply and all that needs to happen is to ensure it's up to date, and is comprehensive!
     
  26. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Neither of which it is...
     
  27. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    So the pressure should be on making sure the passenger oriented resource is correct and up to date. Not for a staff manual full of technical terms to be made available as an alternative.
     
  28. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I completely see your point - it is definitely neccessary for a clear, concise, factually correct and up to date information resource to be available which the average passenger can understand.

    But, at the same time, I don't see what issues ATOC have with making The Manual publicly available, as it will only be referred to by the 2% of people who understand the jargon (i.e. us)! Is there some secret stuff in the manual that be must "classified" and would make the railways topple over if the public can access it?! :roll:

    The Manual would not be an "alternative" if it was made publicly available. It would be a complement, and I don't see any problems with that. It would be just like the Routeing Guide and Avantix Traveller, which are complements to NRE and online journey planners. Does most of the public access these resources? No. But the minority who do find them to be very useful.
     
  29. snail

    snail Established Member

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    The closest equivalent to this discussion I can think of are the HMRC Manuals. These are freely available on the web with a very small number of redacted paragraphs where information should be restricted. I can see no reason why a similar approach shouldn't be taken by 'National Rail'. If individual TOCs want to withhold commercially sensitive info that's fine.
     
  30. Smethwickian

    Smethwickian Member

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    Lots of useful information which used to be in the printed editions of the National Fares Manual and Rail-Links Manual seems to have disappeared from public view since they ceased to be sold and is definitely not on nationalrail.co.uk

    For example, do many of the through bus-rail fares (not PlusBus) which used to be in the Rail-Links Manual three or four years ago still operate, for example? If they do, most train operators appear determined to keep them a secret.

    If that's the kind of stuff that's now in The Manual, then why not publish it?
     
  31. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    As well as plenty of non-railway staff who are using logins for companies they don't work for.

    A concept that many people are clearly failing to grasp on here is that what is in The Manual is not the be all and end all. Why are people demanding access to a resource that they don't even know the purpose of? Perhaps to tell staff how to do their job, when those staff may well be working to rule from their own TOC? Local TOC instructions take precedence and indeed, retail jobs such as ticket selling can be done without ever needing to access it. There are also instructions on there for staff which would assist fare evaders in playing the system - presumably those pressing for open access are in support of this?
     
    Last edited: 7 Nov 2011
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